Monken bullish on No. 1 Saints draft pick

Notes, quotes and an opinion or two . . .

It didn’t surprise me that the Saints took a safety in the first round of the draft. It did surprise me somewhat when I saw Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro’s measurables, which included a 4.6 40-yard dash time. That’s not exactly burning it up for a the No. 15 pick of the draft. So I called a guy who should know. Todd Monken, the new head coach at Southern Miss, prepared for Vaccaro and Texas three straight years as the offensive play-caller at Oklahoma State. Monken and Okie State beat Texas two of those three years.

“Here’s what I can tell you about that guy: He gets it,” Monken said. “He is a really good football player who was a pain in our rear end all three years. He just has a feel for it and he has all the intangibles, grit, determination, you name it. He’s a heckuva football player, and I don’t even know what he ran or any of his measurables. I can just tell you he knows how to play football. He has the instincts and he knows how to play. My guess is they’ll love him in New Orleans.” . . . When I told Monken Vaccaro ran a 4.6 at the combine, he wasn’t surprised. “Trust me, he plays a lot faster than that,” he said.

I am reminded of when Jerry Rice ran a 4.67 40 for NFL scouts, dropping him down to the third receiver taken in the draft. Said Archie Cooley, his MVSU coach, “Nobody was chasing him.” . . .

Installation began today on a new high-definition, 80-inch TV screen in our scoreboard here at your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The TV will face the museum’s mezzanine section where there is stadium-type seating for 45 and plenty of space otherwise for food, drink and mingling. We plan to use the space for rentals for groups that want to watch sporting events in a party atmosphere. Three early-season football games we plan to show on the big screen: Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, State-Oklahoma State and USM-Nebraska. . . .

Count me as not the least bit surprised that the Baltimore Ravens have signed Ole Miss basketball standout Murphy Holloway to a football contract. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Holloway play hoops and thought to myself, “Man, that guy would be an incredible tight end.” The fact that the Saints’ Jimmy Graham so easily made the transition hasn’t done anything to diminish those thoughts. Holloway will not have to beef up that much. He already has a football-like body with muscles on top of muscles. He has great hands, as evidenced by his tremendous rebounding skills. He’ll have to learn to run routes, which shouldn’t be that difficult. He’ll have to learn to block, which will be harder. I won’t be shocked if he becomes a football star. . . He played basketball with a football mentality, and I mean that in a good way. He was tough; he didn’t mind mixing it up and doing the dirty work. . . . It’s like I said at the C Spire Howell Trophy luncheon: “If war breaks out in here today, I want to be in Murphy Holloway’s foxhole.” . . .

Did you see where ex-Mississippi State standout Dontae Walker just earned his college degree from Belhaven University? Good for him. Now he’s going to work on his Masters. I gotta tell you, I would have lost bets on this one. Couldn’t be happier for him. Way to go, Dontae….

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